Ten Hag breaks silence on Ronaldo exit with sharp 17-word response; reveals huge effect Liverpool had on Man Utd season

Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag and striker Cristiano Ronaldo Credit: Alamy
Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag and striker Cristiano Ronaldo Credit: Alamy

Erik ten Hag had just 17 words to say about Cristiano Ronaldo and his Man Utd exit, and revealed the impact Liverpool had on his first season at Old Trafford.

A winter World Cup has given club managers an unusual six-week break to assess their progress in the middle of the campaign. Manchester United are currently in Spain as they oversee a warm-weather training camp ahead of domestic football’s return.

United take on Cadiz at 7pm UK time on Wednesday night. Ahead of the contest, Ten Hag conducted a two-part interview the club’s media. The latter half of the interview has surfaced today.

Ten Hag was asked for his thoughts on a range of topics by former Red Devil, Danny Webber.

Among the subjects discussed was the seminal 2-1 victory over Liverpool on matchday three – a critical win that ignited Man Utd’s ailing season at the time.

United had suffered back-to-back losses to begin the season and defeat on home soil to Liverpool could’ve turned a poor start into a full-blown crisis.

However, United out-thought and out-fought Jurgen Klopp’s side, emerging deserved 2-1 victors thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.

Ten Hag was asked about the importance of that match, and explained what effect it had on the players, as well as their belief his tactics would work.

Liverpool win instilled belief in Man Utd squad

“I think, definitely [it was important],” said Ten Hag. “So especially in the mentality, the belief that we can compete with big opponents, that we can beat them.

“That gives a certain belief in the group, that we can compete with certain opponents.

“It doesn’t matter which it is, because Liverpool is a really good team, a world-class team. So, when you beat them, you can take that belief into other games.”

United’s best display under their new coach was unquestionably the 2-0 win over Tottenham on October 19.

Their outstanding display has been overlooked since then, with the fixture latterly becoming more known for Ronaldo refusing to come on as a substitute late on.

Regardless, Ten Hag was keen to stress the impressive Spurs win must become the new norm and not an outlier if United are to get back to where they belong.

“I think we played some more good games, like Everton away, Chelsea was a really good performance,” continued the Dutchman.

“But Spurs definitely. I think on that night, we played the best performance in this first 14 games in the Premier League.

“That is like the standard we have to build on and we have to progress. But by far we are now there where we want to be.

“If you want to compete for trophies, then you have to do much better in a lot of elements of football. That’s what we’re working for but you’re still in the fifth position of the league. I think we’re just in the right position.

“If we do the right things, if we work good, if we have the right plan, then yes I think it’s hopeful. It gives us a good idea of where we can finish.”

Ten Hag on Ronaldo

Finally, Ten Hag delivered a short and sharp response when asked about how he’s managed Ronaldo’s exit.

Ronaldo always looked a poor fit for Ten Hag who favours a more mobile and harder working frontman.

Ronaldo’s professionalism nosedived over the last six months, and his ill-advised interview with TalkTV proved the final straw. The 37-year-old’s second stint at Old Trafford was terminated by mutual consent in a move that will ultimately benefit all involved.

Seemingly keen to draw a line under the debacle, Ten Hag simply said of the United legend: “He’s gone and it’s the past.

“We are now looking forward and we’re looking to the future.”

READ MORE: Ten Hag choice haunts Man Utd as primary January transfer spirals out of control

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